Crab Mac ‘N Cheese

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Wow!

I cannot believe it.  This is my 500th Post on this Blog and I cannot think of a better way to celebrate with my favorite comfort food.

I absolutely love Macaroni and Cheese and this is a very special dish meant for any occasion. The homemade bechamel sauce compliments the sweet jumbo lump crab meat perfectly. Serve it as a side dish or as an entree it’s a fantastic and budget friendly way to serve crab meat to a crowd with style.

Serves 6

Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds conchigliette pasta*
1/4 cup butter
1 shallot, finely diced
3 cloves garlic,finely minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup shredded white Cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shredded Asiago cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound jumbo lump crab meat, picked over
Chopped fresh parsley or crushed dried parsley, for garnish

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375ºF. In a large pot of boiling water, cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain and return to pot.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add shallot and garlic and cook until fragrant and softened,for 3 minutes. Add flour and whisk until combined and golden, for about 1 minute. Add milk and season with salt and pepper. Simmer 2 minutes, until sauce is thickened and smooth.

Stir in 1/2 white cheddar, the mozzarella and Asiago until slightly melted, then remove from heat.

Add the bechamel sauce and crab meat to pot with cooked pasta and gently stir with a wooden spoon until completely combined.

Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheddar and 1/4 cup Parmesan and bake until bubbly, for 20 minutes.

Garnish the dish with parsley and serve immediately.

*Cooks Notes:
Conchiglie [koŋˈkiʎʎe], is a type of pasta in which the name is derived from the Italian word “conchiglia” .Commonly known as “shells” or “seashells” , this pasta is usually sold in the plain durum wheat variety, and also in colored varieties which use natural pigments, such as tomato extract, squid ink or spinach extract. The shell shape of the pasta allows the sauce to adhere to it. A miniature variety called conchigliette is also available.

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Lobster and Artichoke Pizza

This pizza was inspired by the Old Port Lobster Flatbread appetizer served at the  Hancock Gourmet Lobster Company in Topsham, Maine. Instead using a standard pizza dough to make the crust, I opted for a puff pastry. Pepperidge Farm’s Puff Pasty is the one I like to use, but you can use any standard commerically made products that can be found in your local supermarkets. This decadent treat  It is perfect for a Sunday afternoon lunch.

Ingredients:

For the Lemon Butter Herb Marinade:
Makes About 1 Cup

1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 Tablespoon fresh minced rosemary
1/2 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/4 Tablespoon lemon peel
1/4 cup melted butter
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste

Directions:
Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, salt cayenne pepper in a nonreactive (glass, ceramic, or stainless steel) bowl and whisk until the salt crystals are dissolved. Add the rosemary, parsley, garlic and lemon zest. Stir or whisk in the butter to combine. The virtue of this marinade is its freshness: Use it within 1 to 2 hours of making. Stir again before using.

For the toppings:
Ingredients:
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4  cup  Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup Asiago Cheese
1/4 cup Fontina Cheese
1/2 pound lobster meat (click here for the resource)
1/2 cup  Suns of Italy Marinated Artichoke Hearts, chopped (click here for the resource)
2 Tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
Crush red pepper flakes, to taste
Pepperidge Farms Puff Pastry (click here for the site)

Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 430 degrees F.

Make the marinade. Add about 1/2 cup of the marinade to a small non reactive bowl. Add the lobster meat and cover with plastic wrap and set in the refrigerator to marinade for about 20 minutes.

Roll out the puff pastry and  place on a foil-covered pizza pan. Blind bake the pastry

In a small bowl, combine olive oil and minced garlic and using a pastry brush, brush onto the dough.

Sprinkle about 1/3 cup of the cheeses on top.

Remove the lobster meat from the marinade and drain. And a layer of the lobster and artichokes on top of the pastry. Sprinkle on the parsley, the red pepper flakes, and the rest of the remaining  cheeses.

Bake at 430 degrees for about 18-22 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and crisped, to your liking.